As Matt Baume mentioned in Slog AM, this weekend King County Executive Dow Constantine announced the opening of a new film production facility at the former Fisher Flour Mill on Harbor Island. This move is a step forward for the state to compete with well-funded regional film production competitors, like Vancouver (B.C.) and Portland, which often serve as stand-ins for the Emerald City.
"This is an exciting opportunity for us to recapture some of that film business and the many jobs that have depended on [it] over the years," Constantine said in a Twitter video.
According to a press release, the 117,000 square foot space—now called the King County Harbor Island Studios—was purchased by the county 18 years ago as a potential site to ship waste. To the tune of $1.5 million, the mill has since been rewired, soundproofed, and split into two soundstages to accommodate and attract film clients. Apparently, a "Hollywood episodic production"—that wishes to remain anonymous—is prepping to use the mill as a soundstage this week, "hiring hundreds of local crew members with family-wage jobs."
While Seattle experienced a steady stream of Hollywood productions in the '80s and '90s—like Sleepless in Seattle, Singles, Assassins, and 10 Things I Hate About You—it ground to halt before the year 2000. The last major episodic television series to shoot in the region was Northern Exposure, which produced six seasons of the hit show in a Redmond warehouse before packing up shop in 1995.
The goal with this new facility is to bring the spirit of film production back to the area. The studios will "create the infrastructure needed to land a wide variety of projects—from feature films to commercials—which pay union wages to carpenters, electricians, prop masters, costume designers, and other trades."
As I reported here last week, theeeee Steven Soderbergh will set up shop here next month to shoot the Zoë Kravitz-starring film KIMI, about an agoraphobic tech worker thrown into the vicious politics of the Seattle City Council. No word yet on whether Soderbergh will use this new county resource, but maybe keep an eye out for a harried Kravitz in West Seattle.
This morning, I unveiled a new film production facility at the former Fisher Flour Mill on Harbor Island. By investing in the creative industry, we can put hundreds of people to work in good, union jobs making films right here in @KingCountyWA. pic.twitter.com/KpgcbPfGB1
— Dow Constantine (@kcexec) April 3, 2021